Northern Kosovo Serbs 'disappointed' with border pact

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Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo reacted with disappointment and pessimism Sunday to an EU-brokered agreement on joint management of disputed border crossings.
Mitrovica, KOSOVO – Sunday, December 4, 2011 / AFP
“I am disappointed. I think that representatives of institutions in Pristina should in no way be allowed to set up in northern Kosovo,” said Krstimir Pantic, mayor of the town of Kosovska Mitrovica near the border.
“I think the people on the barricades won’t allow it,” he added, referring to roadblocks set up near border posts to bar border guards and customs officials authorities from the ethnic Albanian Kosovan government from manning them. “Concerning the dismantling of the barricades, we have to consult the people and we will also wait the conclusions of a joint meeting of city councils of the court (Serb) towns” in northern Kosovo, he told AFP.
Pantic did not say when the meeting would take place. Belgrade refuses to recognise the independence of Kosovo, declared in 2008 and recognised by the United States, and most of the EU and many other states.
The border zone has seen clashes between NATO peacekeepers and the ethnic Serbs manning the barricades, threatening to scuttle Serbia’s dreams of EU membership.
On Friday the European Union said the two sides had agreed to “integrated management” of the border crossings following three days of talks lasting late into the night.
Police and customs officers from both Belgrade and Pristina will manage the crossings jointly under the supervision of the European rule of law mission EULEX, it said.
Dragisa Milovic, mayor of Zvecan, near the border, said he wanted more details about the accord. “A representative of our (Belgrade) government must come and explain what has changed. The barricades were set up to oppose the presence of (ethnic Albanian) Kosovan customs officials, and we hear that now they will be present,” he said.
On Friday before the deal was announced, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Serbia could not become a candidate for EU membership due to its failure to make progress in normalising ties with Kosovo.
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Vedat Xhymshiti; is an independent journalist and war correspondent. He has reported on a number of Middle Eastern conflicts from the Arab Spring in 2010 to the current Syrian civil war. He has been published in various media including Der Spiegel, NY Times, TIME, Paris Match, Le Monde ect. He is specialized in International Relations and Diplomacy. Xhymshiti is also a print media critic, a columnist for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, and founder of THEFrontliner.net

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